I’ve been away from posting on the blog recently because of a temporary move … to Japan! And now, having settled in a bit, I’m ready and roaring to go (appropriate for a PaperTiger blogger!) from my new location here in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo prefecture. I’ll be in Japan for four months and hope to immerse myself in the wonderful world of childrens’ literature as it is experienced here by readers. Japan has some great childrens’ book writers and illustrators and I’m eager to explore that world with my children as they attend the local elementary and junior high schools here. With Japan being so much in the news, I feel in the unique position of being a reporter-of-sorts, in particular, of any activities related to children and the recent disaster in northern Japan. Days after arriving, I heard about a childrens’ book donation program through Unicef; childrens’ books were being collected to be sent to children in the earthquake and tsunami-hit zones. The program, running for only a short time, was very successful. I was heartened and encouraged to see how the Japanese responded so swiftly to a request for books, knowing full well the transformative powers of story on the lives of children. Even as the basic supplies were being sent out to the victims and survivors, here also was considered necessary, supplies for the hearts and minds of the most vulnerable. Kodomo no tame ni — for the sake of the children — is a Japanese phrase I first encountered in Joy Kogawa’s novel Obasan. How apt this phrase is for these times of trial and hardship for northern Japan!